Part 3 – The Greatest Complaint – The Millennial Sense of Entitlement

Cheerful guy sitting in front of desktop computer

 “Yes, I am entitled to apply for a vice president’s job. I was a community organizer for two years and have been here a year already”!

What is the singular greatest complaint leveled against Millennials?

Many employers would say that this generation sees each new undertaking with a “sense of entitlement” that is entirely out of proportion to their age and experience. After all, as the M-generation sees it, shouldn’t they at least be allowed to apply for a vice presidency of the company where they have worked for one year? After all, a community organizer can become president.

They are not taking into consideration that this president had a law degree and was a law professor for 12 years before he was a three time State Senator, and a U.S. Senator for two years  before he ran for the office.

Simply, from childhood the M-Generation has developed a reputation for “being overconfident and spoiled”. They expect praise (even coming to work on time to them is an important recognition) long before they have earned it. Also, remember they probably have no understanding or appreciation for the reporting and accountability hierarchy in an organization.

As the authors of “The M-Factor” say, “This generation shows signs of being far too impressed with their own value and importance”.

Now, before you beat me with the proverbial wet noodle of indignation, I acknowledge this trait is tempered by individual personalities. While one Millennial may exude “cockiness and arrogance” that turns off even his/her peers, another one is a model of humility.

Authors do say that anecdotal evidence, along with the general trends, suggests that at some point you will shake your head in disbelief at the unreasonable expectations you have just discovered in your new employee.   Despite their intelligence and competency in many areas, the Millennial has a lot to learn.  But, in a different time in a different way, didn’t we all?

Let’s examine a few generalized expectations you may encounter so you will be prepared:

Millennials may expect to advance quickly. Once they have mastered their current responsibilities, they want to be promoted to higher positions or greater responsibility NOW.

They often have a very low tolerance for the mundane work that usually falls to the lowest rung of the workplace ladder. They don’t understand the concept of seniority, and to them that is an anathema of their value system. They value capability over experience and believe that a fresh, young perspective is always more valuable than the tried and true methods of the “old gray heads”.

The ideas of “doing your time” within a role and job and “paying your dues” just do not make sense to them and are at odds with their expectations.  The kind of work and status that M-Generation new hires are likely to encounter in any job may not be to their liking.

Many employers, when they encounter the M-Generation employee’s high expectations and impatience with their low status, are tempted to conclude that he/she is just plain “spoiled rotten”.

As a path to understanding, let’s consider how we acted out our own social norms of the 1960s and 70s and were complacent to “climb the ladder” appropriately by gaining experience and education.  The M-Generation new hire and his peers are simply acting out the social norms and experiences and examples that have thus far shaped their lives.

Many behavioral psychologist and sociologists have concluded that one prevailing norm for the Millennial has been the constant availability of choice. Simply, in all aspects of life, at home, at school, in extra-curricular activities and even the marketplace, they often could choose their experiences. Everything from what playlists they might load to their I-pod to what reading list they preferred in high school or college was a personal choice. For them, their world has been easily customizable.  It is going to be a shock to some of them to find out that life is not always that way.

In my mind, members of this generation can be overly-sensitive. This can certainly be a factor in their  employment lives. For example, there were college students who were appalled at “chalk drawings of presidential candidates” on the sidewalks. Few employers are expecting or prepared to deal with an employee reduced to crying over inanimate objects and even fewer are going to provide “safe spaces”, cookies and hot chocolate when something upsets one of their new hires.

Let’s remember that many of the parents of the M-Generation believed and practiced that praise and self-esteem were the first priorities in parenting and teaching realms. The child learns that if you play on the little league baseball team, you get a trophy for showing up. Turn in your homework, and get a gold star for turning something in with your name on it regardless of the content.

While effort is important and trying your best is important, life, and certainly the business world, does not necessarily hand out trophies for these worthy attributes.

Millennials often hear “You can accomplish whatever you want in life” hundreds of times by the times they are adults The flip side of that coin is that hard work, perseverance and some luck are usually the prerequisites.  And, even with all that in place, there is still no guarantee.  Millennials may have a hard time grasping this.

Granted it will be difficult to alter the high expectations about choice, and the need for quick and constant affirmation, of the typical Millennial.   Many employers may see it as impossible!  But fear not – there are ways to approach your new hire’s expectations that will minimize conflict and frustration while utilizing their potential.

Next: Part 4 – Minimizing conflict and crisis when dealing with a Millennial

Sources: The M- Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace” by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman (Harper Collins, 2010)

PWC.Com – Millennials in the Work Place – Reshaping the World https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/assets/reshaping-the-workplace.pdf

 

 

Emerging technology: Is it a boon for businesses or another intrusion into personal privacy?

Image result for remotely controlled street lights

Businesses and communities of all sizes might benefit from emerging technology in the areas of emergency management; however, the system has as many detractors as advocates.

A recent technology being developed by Intellistreets would allow the common lamppost, found in every community, to detect rising floodwaters, display evacuation routes and help citizens safely leave areas.

The Intellistreets system consists of a wireless digital infrastructure that allows streetlights to be controlled remotely by means of a ubiquitous wi-fi link and a miniature computer housed inside each lamppost. This would allow “security, energy management, data harvesting and digital media,” according to the Illuminating Concepts website.

Wireless technology inside lampposts will provide emergency alerts, “homeland security” surveillance, and public safety functions, according to Ron Harwood at Intellistreets.

“The system was invented as a response to the chaos created at street level during 9/11,” Harwood, the president of Intellistreets, told reporter Elaine Pittman at http://www.emergencymgmt.com.

The company has the capability of retrofitting existing street lamps or installing new high-tech lamps. The technology consists of a dual radio mesh wireless system with microprocessors that allow for information and data collection such as an analysis of what a streetlight is “hearing,” “seeing” and “smelling.”

The features vary and can include:

n Emergency alerts, digital signage

n Hazardous environment alerts

n Two-way audio

n A pedestrian counter

Harwood says this is known as “edge processing.” This process provides first responders the opportunity to get real-time information provided in English or graphics that originate from the site, instead of analytics available through backdoor processors.

The information is accessed via the web. 0perators and first responders can get the alert when various environmental factors trigger the system. Once the system is triggered, action can be taken remotely.

Harwood told Pittman that by outfitting streetlight poles with water sensors in an area that has flooding or water main issues, the streetlight with the built-in intelligence would activate a warning light when water reaches a certain depth (for example, detected above the curb). Other streetlights in the area that have the technology would begin to flash and warn traffic to slow down, according to Harwood.

Intellistreets’ audio features also increase public safety in a two-way fashion, Harwood says. Emergency blue light buttons allow people to signal for help, and speakers provide a way for government officials to make announcements or issue emergency alerts.

Then digital signs can display standard information, such as civic announcements, and be updated with important information like an evacuation route, if necessary. The system features built-in signage and announcements for standard situations. This will allow a public safety representative to click a button on the Web-based system to start audio alerts or change what’s being featured on the digital signs.

Harwood says their goal is to have an iPad in each patrol vehicle so officers can easily update the messaging when needed.

Although not yet widespread, the technology is being used at Sony Pictures in Culver, Calif., where the digital signs provide departure routes during the movie lot’s weekly evacuation exercise.

Price reports that a demonstration of Intellistreets was installed in Farmington Hills, Mich., last year. Although the local government isn’t using the system’s high-tech tools, city officials think the features would be beneficial.

Farmington Hills City Manager Steve Brock told Price that he thought the potential for their use is huge and said, “We haven’t used much of the technology that I think is available with regard to messaging, signage and things like that. But when we went through the demonstration of them, when they sort of christened them if you will, I was very impressed with their capabilities and what it could mean in all sorts of environments.”

According to the company’s previous You Tube video of the concept, which has been removed after controversy about the technology arose, the primary capabilities of the devices include “energy conservation, homeland security, public safety, traffic control, advertising, video surveillance.”

In terms of Homeland Security (DHS) applications, each of the light poles contains a speaker system that can be used to broadcast emergency alerts. In addition, there is a display that transmits “security levels” (presumably a similar system to the DHS’ much maligned color-coded terror alert designation) and shows instructions by way of its LED video screen, according to reporter Paul Joseph Watson at http://www.infowars.com.

The lights also include proximity sensors that can record both pedestrian and road traffic. The video display and speaker system could also be used to transmit advertising, as well as “Amber Alerts” and other “civic announcements.”

Watson reports that street lights as surveillance tools have already been advanced by several European countries. In 2007, leaked documents out of the United Kingdom Home Office revealed that British authorities were working on proposals to fit lamp posts with CCTV cameras that would X-ray scan passers-by and “undress them” in order to “trap terror suspects.”

So-called “talking surveillance cameras” that use a speaker system similar to the Intellistreets model are already being used in UK cities like Middlesborough to give orders and reprimand people for dropping litter and other minor offenses, Watson says.

Although some communities and businesses see the value of such systems in protecting property, Watson says that the transformation of street lights into surveillance tools for Homeland Security purposes will only serve to heighten concerns that the United States is fast on the way to becoming a high-tech police state.

Transportation Security Agency (TSA) agents are being empowered to oversee such control grid, most recently with the announcement that TSA screeners would be manning highway checkpoints. This is a further indication that security measures we currently see in airports are rapidly moving onto the streets and highways in the United States, according to Watson’s article.

The ability of the government to use streetlights to transmit “emergency alerts” also dovetails with the ongoing efforts to use radio and television broadcasts for the same purpose, via the Federal Emergency Management’s Emergency Alert System.

Watson says that the federal government is keen to implement a centralized system of control over all communications, with the recent announcement that all new cell phones will be required to comply with the PLAN program (Personal Localized Alerting Network). The PLAN program will broadcast emergency alert messages directly to Americans’ cell phones using a special chip embedded in the receiver. The system will be operational by the end of the year in New York and Washington, with the rest of the country set to follow.

Some communities and businesses see such technology as advancement toward protecting their properties and citizens. Others see such a system as even more of an intrusion into personal privacy.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds the Intellistreets technology, not surprisingly, through grants. Greater security for businesses and communities versus more invasion of privacy – what do you  think?

Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong, Armstrong and Associates, is a consultant and counselor. He can be reached at drdarryl@aol.com or 1-888-340-2006 or www.ldarrylarmstrong.com

Six steps to prepare your small business for a disaster

Let’s hope and pray that you never have a disaster however the chances increase daily.

Many of you reading this have most likely followed the looting and rioting that occurred following the Grand Jury’s decisions in Ferguson, Mo and New York City.  The actions of the rioters and looters on small businesses was deplorable and I sincerely hope, yet doubt, that those responsible for breaking into stores and looting will be arrested and prosecuted. Sadly, many of those businesses had not appropriately prepared for such an incident.

As a small business owner there are several things you should do in advance to protect yourself, your employees and your business during a disaster.

First, you must develop a disaster preparedness plan.

This planning is as essential as developing a business plan. Having a disaster plan in place will make the difference between being shut down for a few days, and losing your livelihood forever. The plan should be thoughtfully designed to cover all possible contingencies. You may never face a riot however the chances of an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado or even a robbery in western Kentucky is significant.

Second, get your insurances in order.

We recommend that you have a personal and ongoing relationship with your insurance agent. Choose one who understands the needs of your business and meet with him/her annually to assess and reassess your needs.

If you are in a store-front business such as a convenience store you will need business-interruption insurance. This is the type of insurance that replaces income lost when a business suffers downtime due to a covered peril, which means that you must understand fully what perils are covered.

Many insurance companies no longer cover such things as terrorist, rioting and looting events. Know and understand fully what you are paying for and be a good business person by shopping around for the right agent and a company that will meet your needs.

Here is what I mean by this – your agent is the person you will depend upon to facilitate and handle claims and settlements for you. This person’s behavioral, management and personality styles should at least be complementary to your own. However, if you tend to be a tentative person who will not fight for your rights, you may wish to ensure that you have an insurance agent who will and is truly on your side.

A few years ago, we actually changed our insurance agent even though the company we had insurance with at the time charged a lesser premium. Why? Frankly, this insurance agent would not promptly return our telephone calls, answer our questions with clarity or handle our issues and reimbursements quickly and fairly.

If this is your agent – he/she needs training in customer service and you are not paying him/her to be less than customer focused. Find an agent that meets your expectations and that you are comfortable with while understanding that you as a customer is of paramount importance to him/her.

Third, remember that normal hazard insurance doesn’t cover floods.

It is vitally important that you make sure you have designated flood insurance. Also, ensure that you fully understand what your insurance covers and what is not covered.

Fourth, as the business owner, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I prepared to relocate temporarily? Where might we do this?
  • What would happen if my suppliers were shut down due to an emergency or disaster?
  • Do you employees know what to do in case of an emergency or a disaster?

For example, employees should know where all the emergency exits are located in your building.  A safety coordinator should be appointed and trained. This is the person who will take responsibility for making sure that all the fire extinguishers, security systems and close-circuit television cameras work and that all emergency exits are operational.

This person will plan and conduct safety and fire drills and develop evacuation and business recovery plans. Obviously in many small businesses this will be you as the owner!

Fifth, backup and store vital business records offsite.

Information stored on paper and computer, should be copied and saved on a backup hard drive at an offsite location at least 50 miles away from the main business site, advises the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

This is where we would disagree with FEMA. We recommend using “cloud” computer services to back up your information so they can be accessible from anywhere at any time. Setup and use a password system and ensure that you and at least two other trusted employees have access to that password.

Sixth, develop a simple, easy to follow “business recovery communications” plan.

Assign key employees as facilitators who during a disaster will contact suppliers, creditors, other employees, customers, and utility companies to get the word out that the business is still viable and is in need of assistance in the recovery.

Get yourself trained and train at least one preferably two other persons to be a media spokesperson to keep the public informed of your rebuilding efforts, if necessary.

Finally, recognize and understand that the more strategic planning you do on the front-end the better. The last thing you need to be doing is planning for a disaster when it is underway or impending.

Our mantra about preparing and strategically planning for a disaster has remained the same the past 40-years: “Always plan for the worst, while praying for the best.”

Active Shooter Planning: 6 Business Continuity Issues that Must Be Considered

In planning for active shooter table-top exercises an often overlooked area is that of business continuity. How and what do we do to ensure that the university gets back to the business as soon as possible. There are six major issues to consider and that law enforcement officials should collaborate with business continuity planning teams.

First, many administrators, faculty, staff and students fail to realize that when they are evacuated from a building they may not have access to that building for days, if not weeks depending on the nature of the situation. If shots were fired in the building or not, the building becomes a crime scene and appropriate protocols must be followed.

Second, if employees or students are advised they can do telework, what happens if their laptops that are required to access the virtual private network (VPN) remain in the facility and they don’t have access?

Third, even when there is a minimal loss of life, and let’s hope there is none, the psychological impacts on all parties can cause significant absenteeism. Human resources and employee assistance managers must take this into account. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not uncommon and must be planned for in advance.

Fourth, in the case of functions such as Information Technology Centers, facility heating and cooling operations, etc. facilities and operations that cannot be interrupted does your devolution counterparts know when to assume their support role in an Active Shooter event?

Fifth, recovery time objectives are always problematic. Twelve hours may seem like long enough time to resume business “as usual”, but what happens if a lockdown last for 8-10 hours?

Finally, do your business continuity relocation plans conflict with emergency management/public safety plans and often the need to keep everyone on-site?

Law enforcement, emergency managers, public safety, public relations, human resources, supply chain providers, logistical support and others involved in planning active shooter table-top exercises and planning must have business continuity planners at the table.

L. Darryl Armstrong PhD – www.ldarrylarmstrong.com